||This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2011)|
|Religions||Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism|
|Languages||Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu|
|Country||Primarily India, a significant population in UK, United States, Canada and Pakistan|
|Populated States||Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Balochistan, Sindh, North-West Frontier Province, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi.|
|Family names||Kapoor, Chopra, Sehgal etc.|
|Subdivisions||Bari, Bunjahi and Sarin|
Khatris played an important role in India's transregional trade under the Mughal Empire. With the Mughal patronage, they adopted administrative and military roles outside the Punjab region as well. Scott Cameron Levi describes Khatris among the "most important merchant communities of early modern India."
Origin and varna status
The word "Khatri" is believed by some to be the Punjabi adaptation of Sanskrit word Kshatriya, used to describe the warriors in the traditional Hindu varna system. However, a number of sources deny the connection of Khatri caste with ancient Kshatriya Hindu military order. According to one theory, the word "Khatri" originates from the word Khsatri mentioned in Manu Smriti to denote a mixed caste of low-ritual status, born of the union of Kshatriya mothers and Shudra fathers. Dasrath Sharma also described Khatris as a mixed pratiloma caste of low ritual status, but he suggested that Khatris could be a mixed caste born of Kshatriya fathers and Brahmin mothers.
Thus, the Khatris have an ambiguous position in the varna system. Khatris claim that they were warriors who took to trade. The 19th century Indians and the British administrators failed to agree whether the Khatri claim of Kshatriya status should be accepted, since the overwhelming majority of them were engaged in Vaishya (mercantile) occupations. There are Khatris that are found in other states of India and they follow different professions in each region. The Khatris of Gujrat and Rajasthan are said to belong to "Darji" (tailor) caste. K C S Varma notes that Francis Buchanan wrote in the early nineteenth century that "in Behar one-half of the Khatris are goldsmiths," and that another writer of the British era, Kitts, had recorded that "the Khatris are traders in Punjab, and silk-weavers, when we find them in Bombay."Benjamin Lewis Rice echoes a similar view about the Khatri caste in various regions of India.
According to Bichitra Natak, said to be the autobiography of the last Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, but whose authenticity is a matter of ongoing dispute, the Bedi sub-caste of the Khatris derives its lineage from Kush, the son of Rama in the Hindu mythology. The descendants of Kush, according to the disputed Bachitar Natak legend, learned the Vedas at Benares, and were thus called Bedis (Vedis). Similarly, according to the same legend, the Sodhi sub-caste claims descent from the Lav, the other son of Rama.
The region in which the Khatris originally lived was ruled by Hindu kings until 1013 AD. Khatris encountered hardships after the Muslim conquest of the region, but stubbornly clung to their heritage. Because of high levels of education and scholarship, they were able to survive even in difficult times.[page needed]
The Khatris subsequently rose as an important trading community, and played an important role in India's transregional trade under the Mughal Empire. With the patronage of Mughal nobles, the Khatris adopted administrative and military roles outside the Punjab region. According to a nineteenth century Khatri legend, the Khatris followed the military professoin until the time of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Several Khatris were killed during the Aurangzeb's Deccan Campaign, and the emperor ordered their widows to be remarried. When the Khatris refused to obey this order, Aurangzeb terminated their military service, and directred them to be shopkeepers and brokers.
Arya Samaj Khatris
Swami Dayanand was invited to Punjab by prominent individuals who also founded the Singh Sabha, to counter the missionaries. He established Arya Samaj in Lahore in 1877, a society and reform movement which was against casteism, rituals, and idol worship. The group promoted strict monotheism, which Swami Dayanand claimed was the essential message of the Vedas. Arya Samaj became popular among Punjabi Hindus, especially Khatris who were attracted to a similar message by the Sikh Gurus earlier. Arya Samaj inspired individuals like Swami Shraddhanand and institutions like the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Schools System, started by Lala Hansraj Gupta.
All the ten Sikh Gurus were Khatris. Guru Nanak was a Bedi, Guru Angad was a Trehan, Guru Amar Das was a Bhalla, and the rest of the Gurus were Sodhis. During the lifetime of the Gurus, most of their major supporters and Sikhs were Khatris. A list of this is provided by Bhai Gurdas in Varan Bhai Gurdas, a contemporary of the Sikh Gurus.
Other Khatris influential in the history of Sikhism include:
- Bhai Daya Singh, the first of the Panj Pyare (the initial members of the Khalsa), belonged to the Sobti clan of the Khatris.
- Hari Singh Nalwa (1791–1837), the Commander-in-chief of the Khalsa army of the Sikh Empire.
- Ludhiana: Churamani, Nanda, Khullar, Jerath, Chopra and Vij/Vig
- Jagraon: Bahl, Kapoor, Mehra, Seth, Beri and Dhir
- Machhiwara and Bahlolpur: Batte, Sondhi and Karir with
- Raikot: Sehgal and Thapar
- Khanna, Ludhiana: Had and Cham
After the partition, the different Khatri castes have widely dispersed.
- Gijsbert Oonk (2007). Global Indian diasporas. Amsterdam University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-90-5356-035-8.
- John R. McLane (2002). Land and Local Kingship in Eighteenth-Century Bengal. Cambridge South Asian Studies (Volume 53). Cambridge University Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-521-52654-8.
- Scott Cameron Levi (2002). The Indian diaspora in Central Asia and its trade, 1550-1900. BRILL. p. 106. ISBN 978-90-04-12320-5.
- W. H. McLeod (2009). The A to Z of Sikhism. Scarecrow Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-8108-6828-1.
- The changing Indian civilization: a perspective on India, Oroon K. Ghosh, p282, Minerva Associates (Publications), 1976
- The tribes and castes of Bengal: Ethnographic glossary, Sir Herbert Hope Risley, p478-483, Printed at the Bengal secretariat press, 1892/ quote: "It seems to me that the internal organization of the caste furnishes almost conclusive proof that they are descended from neither Brahmans nor Kshatriyas, and that the theory connecting them with the latter tribe rests upon no firmer foundation than a resemblance of name, which for all we know may be wholly accidental. Their features and complexion, indeed, entitle them to be ranked as Aryans of comparatively pure lineage, but among their numerous sections we find none of those territorial names which are characteristic of the Rajput septs. The section-names of the Khatris belong to quite a different type, and rather resemble those in vogue among the Oswals and Agarwals. Were they descended from the same stock as the Rajputs, they must have had the same set of section-names, and it is difficult to see why they should have abandoned these for less distinguished patronymics. In addition to their own sections, they have also the standard Brahmanical gotras; but these have no influence upon marriage, and have clearly been borrowed, honoris ctium, from the Saraswat Brahmans who serve them as priests. If, then, it is at all necessary to connect the Khatris with the ancient fourfold system of castes, the only group to which we can affiliate them is the Vaisyas. "
- B. H. Baden-Powell, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, (Apr., 1899), pp.295, Published by: Cambridge University Press, quote: "Or in the spoken form Chatri. This, in fact, is the equivalent of' Kshatriya,' and not the word Khatri, which is also in use but indicates quite another caste.The latter has no real connection with tho old military order, though sometimes attempts are made to assert such a connection. "
- Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath (1896). Hindu castes and sects: an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. Thacker, Spink. p. 138.
- Early Chauhān dynasties: a study of Chauhān political history, Chauhān political institutions, and life in the Chauhān dominions, from 800 to 1316 A.D., Dasharatha Sharma, p 279, Motilal Banarsidass, 1975
- Kenneth W. Jones (1976). Arya dharm: Hindu consciousness in 19th-century Punjab. University of California Press. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0-520-02920-0. "...among Vaishyas, the Khatri and his associates, the Saraswat Brahmans. The Khatris claimed, with some justice and increasing insistence, the status of Rajputs, or Kshatriyas, a claim not granted by those above but illustrative of their ambiguous position on the great varna scale of class divisions ..."
- W. H. McLeod (2009). The A to Z of Sikhism. Scarecrow Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-8108-6828-1. "...Khatris claiming that they were warriors who took to trade."
- Rose, Horace Arthur (1911). A Glossary of The Tribes and Castes of The Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. p. 507. Retrieved 2011-10-08.
- People, Gazetteer Ludhiana, Department of Revenue, Government of Punjab (India)
- Gazetteer Amritsar, Department of Revenue, Government of Punjab (India) (First Edition 1976)
- John R. McLane (2002). Land and Local Kingship in Eighteenth-Century Bengal. Cambridge South Asian Studies (Volume 53). Cambridge University Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-521-52654-8. "The Khatris were a Punjabi mercantile caste who claimed to be Kshatriyas. Nineteenth-century Indians and British administrators failed to agree whether that claim should be accepted. The fact that overwhelming majority were engaged in Vaishya (mercantile), not Kshatriya (military), pursuits was balanced against the Khatri origin myths..."
- Indian settlers: the story of a New Zealand South Asian community, p48, Jacqueline Leckie, Otago University Press, 2000/ quote :"Tailoring was a caste occupation that continued in New Zealand by those from Darji and Khatri castes who had been trained in appropriate skills. Bhukandas Masters, a Khatri, emigrated to New Zealand in 1919. He practiced as tailor in central Auckland..."
- People of India: Rajasthan, Part 1, p303, Chapter titled "Darji" by Ramesh Chandra, K. S. Singh, Popular Prakashan, 1998/ quote: "Peepavanshi Darji are also called Peepavat Khatri."
- Varma, Kumar Cheda Singh (1904). [[Kshatriyas and would-be Kshatriyas]]. Pioneer Press. p. 68. Retrieved 2011-10-21. Wikilink embedded in URL title (help)
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- Different approaches to Bachitar Natak, Journal of Sikh studies, Surjit Singh Hans, Volume 10, 66-78, Guru Nanak University.
- The Sikh Struggle in the Eighteenth Century and Its Relevance for Today, W. H. McLeod, History of Religions, Vol. 31, No. 4, Sikh Studies (May, 1992), pp. 344-362, The University of Chicago Press/ quote: " "Although Bachitar Natak is traditionally attributed to Guru Gobind Singh, there is a strong case to be made for regarding it as the work of one of his followers..."
- Dasam Granth: A historical study, Sikh Review, 42(8), Aug 1994, 9-20
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- The Khatris, a Socio-Historical Study. by Baij Nath Puri Published in 1988, M.N. Publishers and Distributors (New Delhi)
- Hindu Tribes and Castes as Represented in Benares, by Matthew Atmore Sherring, Published 1872. Trubner and co  p 277
- HT-CSDS 2003 Survey Estimates
- Political Elite and Society in the Punjab, by Nina Puri. Published 1985 Vikas
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- Mahatma Hansraj: Maker of the Modern Punjab By Sri Ram Sharma, Published 1941, Arya Pradeshik, Pratinidhi Sabha
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- Sangat Singh (2001). The Sikhs in history: a millenium study, with new afterwords. Uncommon Books. p. 71. ISBN 978-81-900650-2-3.
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- Levi, Scott Cameron (2002). The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and Its Trade, 1550–1900. Leiden: BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-12320-5.
- Temple, R.C. "The Legends of The Panjab", 1884, Reprinted by Institute of Folk Heritage, Islamabd, 1981.